What a staggering gun cache found in a single suspected neo-Nazi’s home says about far-right extremism in Europe

Inside Minister Karl Nehammer stated of the raid: “The constant motion towards right-wing extremism is just not solely a part of the historic accountability, but additionally a transparent advocacy of our democratic coexistence in Austria.”

It wasn’t the primary motion towards alleged neo-Nazis in Austria this yr. In July, police seized automated weapons and hand grenades in coordinated raids towards a biker gang whose chief deliberate to ascertain a “militia of the respectable” that may “overturn the system.”

Assist for Nazism is a felony offense in Austria. Probably the most distinguished neo-Nazi determine is Gottfried Kuessel, who was sentenced to a nine-year jail time period in 2013 for propagating Nazism on-line. It was his second conviction.

Bernhard Weidinger, who research the far proper on the Documentation Archive of the Austrian Resistance in Vienna, says that the criminalization of Nazi ideology has ensured that it’s neither notably sturdy nor organized.

“However what we do have is a really excessive frequency of weapons finds,” he instructed CNN.

Neo-Nazi exercise in Europe is often related to biker gangs, organized crime and soccer followers. In Austria, a bunch known as the Immortal comply with the membership Fast Vienna, typically displaying the Reich Struggle flag at matches. In Italy, fan teams often called Ultras undertake fascist slogans and monikers.

Austrian neo-Nazi activists often join with comparable teams in Germany, in line with authorities, as a result of they understand themselves as a part of a larger German Reich. After the seizure of one other arsenal of weapons late in 2020, Inside Minister Nehammer spoke of hyperlinks between the 5 arrested people and much proper cells in Germany, in addition to connections with organized crime and drug trafficking.

In Austria, as elsewhere in Europe, the neo-Nazi scene contains virulent strains of each anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim racism.

In January this yr, an Austrian rapper by the identify of Mr Bond was arrested and charged with “producing and broadcasting Nazi concepts and incitement to hatred.” One in all his neo-Nazi songs was utilized by a person as he stay streamed a lethal assault on a synagogue in Germany in 2019.
Some of the weapons that were seized from a house in Baden, Austria, in October 2021.
That assault got here a yr after a 3rd (35%) of Austrians instructed CNN that Jewish folks had been susceptible to racist violence of their nation. Practically half (45%) stated anti-Semitism was a rising drawback of their nation. The findings had been a part of a ComRes/CNN survey exploring anti-Semitism in seven European nations.

In Austria, 12% of individuals aged 18 to 34 stated that they had by no means heard of the Holocaust. Austria additionally had the best variety of folks within the survey — 4 out of 10 adults — who stated they knew “just a bit” concerning the Holocaust. And a 3rd of Austrians (32%) stated Jewish folks have an excessive amount of affect on enterprise and finance all over the world, echoing a long-standing anti-Semitic trope.

The findings got here from a ComRes survey for CNN of seven,092 adults on-line in seven nations between September 7 and September 20, 2018. Information was weighted to be consultant of every nation based mostly on age, gender and area.

Austria is grappling with the legacy of anti-Semitism in different methods. For nearly a decade, a statue in Vienna has been on the middle of that troubled historical past. It’s of Karl Lueger, the town’s mayor initially of the twentieth century. Lueger exploited anti-Jewish feeling in his bid for workplace, emphasizing Christian and Germanic supremacy, and was a lot admired by Adolf Hitler.

The bronze statue, 4 meters excessive, has been defaced however nonetheless stands in a distinguished place in a Vienna sq.. Metropolis authorities determined this month that it will stay in place however be set in context.

One group that took up the reason for defending the statue was the Identitäre Bewegung Österreich (IBO) — the Austrian department of a European motion that describes itself as Identitarian. Its chief, Martin Sellner, visited the statue after it was daubed with the phrase “Disgrace.”

Sellner has change into a number one mild within the Identitarian motion which opposes mass migration and desires Europe to have a homogenic white and Christian identification. They see this identification being offered out by political elites dedicated to multiculturalism.

Austrian authorities prosecuted him and 16 others utilizing anti-Mafia legal guidelines in 2018, accusing them of hate speech and felony affiliation. After a high-profile trial they had been acquitted.

Extra damaging for the Identitarians in Austria was the revelation that that they had obtained a donation from the person who carried out the assaults on mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2019, and that Sellner had been in contact with him.
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Sellner stated in a video assertion that he had nothing to do with the assault and stated the cash can be given to charity. Even so, Bernhard Weidinger instructed CNN, the connection significantly broken the IBO within the eyes of a lot of the general public.

Analysts make a distinction between conventional neo-Nazis — whose actions are based mostly on violence and crime — and the rising Identitarian teams, that are political. Moreover Sellner and the IBO in Austria, they embrace Génération Identitaire in France and the Neue Rechte (New Proper) in Germany.

Nonetheless, each the Identitarians and neo-Nazi ideologists have taken benefit of the conspiracy theories that flourished with the QAnon motion and protests towards vaccination insurance policies through the Covid-19 pandemic. Sellner has stated that such actions must be exploited for the one problem that really issues: resisting mass migration.

In Vienna, Gottfried Kuessel — now out of jail — and others beforehand related to neo-Nazism joined marches towards lockdown.

Weidinger says it is notable that in addition they seem to have attracted a youthful technology — folks of their twenties — to affix them. They’ve additionally begun to prepare their very own protest for the primary time in a few years, he instructed CNN.

Practically 40,000 folks attended a Berlin rally in August final yr to protest towards lockdown but additionally towards the “deep state.” The occasion was notable for the variety of far-right teams that joined in (such because the German Reichsburger motion) and for its adulation of then US President Donald Trump.

In a video message, Sellner instructed the protesters they may mobilize a “broad, patriotic mass” to struggle the “grand technique” of world elites. Members of the Reichsburger group tried to drive their method into the parliament, a symbolic act meant to recall the Nazis’ burning of the Reichstag.

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In each Germany and Austria, the extra excessive factions converse of “Day X” — an apocalyptic fantasy when democratic establishments will collapse in a tide of violence and a neo-Nazi state can be born.

It was a persistent theme on the Telegram channel of Nordkreuz, a German group of far-right extremists that included cops and former troopers. One other such group was Revolution Chemnitz, which deliberate an assault designed to speed up “a turning level in historical past.”

The ‘mainstream’ proper

There may be some ideological overlap between Identitarian teams and Europe’s established right-wing events, such because the Freedom Social gathering in Austria, the Nationwide Rally (previously the Nationwide Entrance) in France, and Matteo Salvini’s Northern League in Italy.

In July, 16 far-right events signed as much as a assertion on the way forward for Europe, warning that “European nations must be based mostly on custom, respect for the tradition and historical past of European states, respect for Europe’s Judeo-Christian heritage and the frequent values that unite our nations.”
Lena Floerl (R), 25, takes part in a "vigil of shame" on October 6, 2020, to prevent city authorities removing graffiti from the statue of Karl Lueger, a former mayor of Vienna famous for his anti-Semitic views.

“In a time when Europe is dealing with a severe demographic disaster with low beginning charges and ageing inhabitants, pro-family coverage making must be a solution as a substitute of mass immigration,” they stated.

Sellner and different Identitarians have used nearly precisely the identical language, warning of the “Nice Substitute” wherein white Europeans are swamped by a tide of migration.

Bernhard Weidinger says that the Identitarians provide what he describes as “crucial solidarity” to the Freedom Social gathering (FPO), which dominates the suitable in Austria. He says that now the Freedom Social gathering is in opposition in Austria after a spell in a authorities coalition it has tilted additional proper, depriving the IBO of territory of its personal.

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Certainly, some FPO members have had an ambivalent relationship with the neo-Nazi fringe in Austria. In 2018, a senior official, Udo Landbauer, resigned his place due to a earlier affiliation with a bunch accused of being neo-Nazis. Landbauer denied realizing about anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi content material in a e book printed by the group.

The European far-right is a fractured setting, the place political activism and calls to violence overlap, and teams develop and morph rapidly. A lot of it’s on-line or underground, but it surely has been given new impetus — in each Europe and America — by lockdowns, vaccination mandates and an epidemic of conspiracy theories.

The place it coalesces — a minimum of in spirit — is on the problems of cultural identification and migration, which teams such because the Austrian IBO regard as an imminent existential menace.

In June this yr, the Austrian parliament handed a regulation banning the symbols of the IBO and one other group, “The Austrians,” basically conflating them with terror teams.

The IBO responded on its web site that: “Austria is thus partially and purposefully abolishing democracy for 2 patriotic teams. The autocratic censors is not going to do away with us.”